Métis asking for break on taxes
Métis Ventures Inc. (MVI), a holding company of Sunset Country Métis, is asking the town for a break on its outstanding taxes.
Council received a letter from Clint Calder, president of both Sunset Country Métis and MVI, stating that the current total principal tax owing on properties at 426 Victoria Ave. and 714 Armit Ave. totals $79,335.79.
“In essence, we are asking for forgiveness of the entire amount of the interest and a small amount of the principal,” wrote Calder.
He added if the offer is acceptable, a payment of $45,000 would be made immediately, with the balance of $25,000 paid by April 30.
Calder explained several factors should be taken into consideration:
•Both properties currently are classified as “commercial” by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., meaning the tax rate is high.
Last fall, the Métis filed an appeal with MPAC to be re-classified as “non-profit” or at least, “residential,” but it was denied.
An appeal now has been filed with the Assessment Review Board, but it will be some time before it is heard.
•The assessed value of the property at 714 Armit Ave. is too high, being assessed at $160,000 for the four years
prior to 2012 and then $120,000 as of Jan. 1, 2012.
Sunset Country Métis feels the value was much less than $160,000 over the four years (by comparison, the Ukrainian Hall here recently sold for $37,000).
A request for reconsideration was filed with MPAC, which denied it.
An appeal of MPAC’s decision has been filed, but no date has been set for a hearing.
•The hall at 714 Armit Ave. was purchased on Sept. 1, 2005 but the town did not forward the assessment information to MPAC until Feb. 28, 2008.
While it’s not known whether it’s the fault of the town or MPAC, Sunset Country Métis did not receive any tax bills for the property until November, 2008, at which time they received tax bills for 2006-08.
This meant the total amount due all at once was $27,285.43. This was too much for a small, volunteer organization to bear—and led to the group falling further behind in its tax obligations.
Notwithstanding the factors—some of which were out of their control—that led to the current situation, Calder said the organization believes every attempt should be made to pay its debts when due.
For more than a year, Sunset Country Métis worked with the community to raise funds to meet tax obligations.
“For example, we have hosted several ‘save our hall’ community events and the response from our Métis citizens has been tremendous,” noted Calder.
He stressed Sunset Country Métis doesn’t receive government funding, relying instead on fundraising and generous donations to serve their community.
While the group was not able to raise enough to meet all of the current taxes owning, the generosity of the community did provide it with enough funds to pay the town the proposed $70,000.
“We realize this is not a particularly good time to be making such a request to the town, but quite frankly it is really all we can afford,” wrote Calder.
“In the event we cannot come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement with the town, we will be forced to consider other options, such as the sale of the community hall or simply forfeiting ownership to the town,” he added.
“This would be a very unfortunate result in that the hall is used for many community events, including the delivery of programs which benefit the community as a whole, such as the ‘Kids Being Kids’ program and the Healthy Food Box program,” noted Calder.
Council referred Calder’s request to the Administration and Finance executive committee for its recommendation.